How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?

When a person is drawing Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, they are not prevented from working, but working while getting disability does has the potential to affect eligibility for monthly disability benefits.

Why? Because Social Security Disability and SSI both have an income limit. The limit on how much a person can make from earned income is called substantial gainful activity or SGA. Each year Social Security sets the SGA limit by determining a monthly amount of gross earnings that it considers to be self-supporting. If a disability beneficiary earns above the SGA monthly amount, their benefit may be suspended or even terminated.

In other words, the SGA limit...is how money you can make on a monthly basis before you become ineligible to receive disability benefits through either Social Security Disability or SSI. As long as your earnings are under the SGA limit, you should not have to worry about losing your benefits.

What if you are unsure that you can work, even on a limited basis, but still want to try working after you start to receive disability benefits? For that, Social Security provides "trial work months". A disability beneficiary is entitled to nine trial months in a five-year period, beginning with the first month in which they have monthly earnings over the trial work limit (yes, there is another earnings limit that affects disability entitlement). The trial work month earnings limit is always less than the SGA limit.

While an individual has the option of having monthly earnings over the SGA limit during the trial work period, trial work months can be exhausted even if the person's earnings are under SGA, if they have used up their nine trial work months.

Trial work months can be performed anytime during the five period and do not have to be consecutive. Once a person has used their trial work months, they have to stay below the SGA limit in order to avoid work suspensions that could cause them to be overpaid at the very least. Overpayments occur because any month a person earns SGA or more, they are not entitled to be paid for that month. Additionally, if a person performs SGA-level work activity consistently, month after month, it could lead to an eventual termination of disability benefits.

Related: What should you do when a Social Security Disability or ssi overpayment occurs?

After all, the definition of Social Security Disability is any medically determinable mental or physical impairment that has prevented a person from performing SGA for twelve months, is expected to prevent the performance of SGA for twelve months, or is expected to end in death. It would stand to reason that consistent performance of work activity at the SGA earnings level could lead to a finding of "medical improvement" for a Social Security Disability beneficiary.

This is why if a person is drawing disability they should be concerned about work activity and what it could suggest when Social Security reviews the claim at a later date. All claims are subject to periodic reviews every few years and these are called continuing disability reviews.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?
Denial by an ALJ at a Disability Hearing
How long does it take a disability judge to make a decision?
Will the income of a Spouse Affect My Disability Benefits?
How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability - What is considered earned income versus unearned income according to the SSA?
How important is reporting income for those who currently receive disability benefits?
How much can I get in Social Security Disability Income?
What Determines Social Security Disability Income?
If you apply for disability in Alabama
Will I qualify for disability Alabama
Is there an income limit to be under when you apply for disability?
Social Security back pay and temporary state disability benefits

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.